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How to avoid debts!

In many ways I've been quite lucky financially. When my son was between ages of 2 and 5 we were able to live with my parents and just pay £100 a month board. They also provided childcare for my son when I was studying and for times when I was working. When I bought my first house they contributed to the deposit.

I acknowledge these things because I know what a huge difference it makes. I know not everyone is so lucky. What I do know though is that I've been in a number of different situations. I've lived off income support in a council house, I've lived as a student in private rented accommodation, in a bunk bed with my son at my parents, with a lodger and with a partner who is so bad with money if he ever won the lottery I'm pretty sure he'd be in debt by the time he got home from collecting his winnings. I've always been careful with money though, since obsessively managing my £2.50 a week pocket money. These tips are based on my own experiences, all tried and tested.

1 . Keep track of your income/outgoings

Do you know how much you really need to live on compared to how much you get? Knowing what you can survive on and what you can change or do without enables to look forward and make realistic plans.

2. Don't get into debt

I know it's hard and often we need to get into debt to survive but debts take away the control you have to manage your money. Try not to get so far into debt that you don't know how to get out of it.

3. Only buy what you need

Ideally we would be able to stick to this but the reality is we all need a treat or pick me up sometimes. Instead, learn to love a bargain! I'm not happy with a purchase unless it's at least half price! Oh, but don't fall for the pressure to buy all the baby gadgets. We managed fine without them in the olden days! Same goes for most mod cons! (Yes I realised how old I sound!)

4. Make the most of offers

It takes 2 minutes to search for restaurant offers just before you head out. If you're gonna spend money anyway check the usual voucher and cash back and comparison websites for money off.

5. Check your habits and set an example

My grandad was so poor when he was little his family had to go and live with their aunt because they had no income. Consequently my grandad, my uncles and my mum have all been obsessed with not wasting money. They never pay full price when they can haggle, they never go to a hairdressers when they can cut hair themselves, or out for a meal when they can pack a sandwich, or make a phone call when it's free after 6. Even Xmas and birthday cards are sent with post it notes in so they can be used again. This is what I grew up with and it's hard to let go of! If you set a good example to children of being finically responsible you're less likely to have to bail them out!

6. Check you're getting what you’re entitled to

DWP don't make it clear that you can often claim benefits while at uni during holidays and as soon as your course date finishes. Know your rights and don't let then fob you off!

7. Don't let people take advantage of you

It's nice to help other people when we can. But if your new boyfriend is happy asking to borrow money off you within the first few weeks of a relationship then it doesn't bode well... Believe me. Don't let people take advantage of you

Sometimes we can influence our own financial situation.  And sometimes things are outside our control. Getting into debt without a plan to get out of it it is a common mistake which can take a long time to rectify because so much is against you when you don't have the luxury of control over your finances. Don't ignore it. Go to CAB. Don't take out more loans, whatever they promise!  Step away from wonga!!

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